We had been looking forward to going to Bremen to see old friends since we arrived in Germany. LW, CW, and I have been friends since we were all 16 years old. LW was an exchange student in my high school and CW came to visit him during that year. Umpteen years and several transatlantic visits later, we all still like each other and remain in contact despite the multitude of factors against us. CW, his lovely wife IW invited us to stay with them for the long holiday weekend and play with their lovely boys HW & LW (1 & almost 4 respectively). Despite working all the way in Stuttgart and having to cancel a meeting to be there, LW made the trip up and we got to catch up with him too.
After our first adventure on the Autobahn from Berlin to Bremen, we arrived at CW’s house in time for dinner on Friday. This was just early enough that we had the possibility of settling our 4 kids down in time for bed after a warming up period and just late enough to ward off too much adult hair-pulling-out from all the tots buzzing around. Bedtime wasn’t as horrible as we expected, but the munchkins DID eventually settle down to give us some adult time. We had a relaxing evening catching up on their newly finished porch recounting tales of parenthood, cultural misunderstandings, and plans for the weekend ahead.
Saturday morning we took the kids to Magic Park. (WARNING: That link plays music!) This was a really perfect place to take our quite young kids, and the weather really cooperated by hanging out in the upper sixties and keeping the sun out all day. We all had a great time flitting around the park, pushing the buttons to make some of the rides go and laughing when all of us grown-ups had trouble pedaling the human powered things. In the end, the kids really spent much more time playing on the trampolines, carpet slide, and jungle gyms than they did on the fancy schmancy rides. A note about difference: If this place had been in the USA, it would have been more expensive, there would have been an attendant at every ride, and the self-propelled vs. automated ride would have been much different. Frankly, I think I preferred this version of a theme park.
Annika driving an old time-y car where we just got in and pulled a rope to get it started.
Mayzie just wanted to keep going down the carpet slide. I LOVE the look on her face in this picture.
The trampoline dancing sisters.
The kids slumbered in the car on the way back to the W house. We dropped off I and the boys, and C headed with us into the city of Bremen to meet up with LW. We parked at his work and walked around the city center. We got to see the famous Bremen Stadtmusikanten (City Musicians), the town hall, and Roland.
Annika and I with the Stadtmusikanten. You are supposed to grab both of the donkey's legs for luck, but I was too concerned about Annika falling to do it this time.
The lesser known statue of the city musicians reading was more Mayzie's style.
Here we are at City Hall & Roland, UNESCO world heritage site and excellent place for people watching.
While we sat at the Beck’s brewery garden in the town center there was even a gigantic demonstration filled with techno music and artists painting a gigantic cloth that was stretched into a circle by 5 people standing in the center and intermittently dancing to the music streaming from the decorated trucks. They were protesting a building being put up in what is now a public gathering place for listening to music. We all agreed that it had a very Love Parade Berlin kind of anti-capitalist artistic feel to it.
We headed back the house for dinner and then bedtime madness ensued promptly thereafter. I will skip the details, but let me just say that I am supremely impressed by Miss Mayzie who was able to completely sleep through her sister kicking and screaming only 4 feet away in the same room. Annika managed to scare the crap out of LW with her antics, mostly because he was worried we were beating her. I assure you, we do not beat our children. It’s just not our style.
After the insanity that was putting Annika to bed that night, IW & CW knew we needed to have a drink and a laugh. Lucky for us they had already been chilling some prosecco AND the Eurovision Song Contest was on that night. I have not laughed at ridiculousness like that in so long, and my stomach was hurting afterwards. Bonus: Andy got a great geography lesson while watching the results come in live.
Sunday was one of my most favorite days ever in the entire universe...in the next installment.